Former Indiana Gaming Executive John Keeler Is Sentenced to Jail

Gaming Executive John Keeler is Now Behind Bars

Gaming Executive John Keeler is Now Behind BarsFormer Indiana gaming executive, John Keeler, has been sentenced to serve two months in federal prison. He was sentenced after pleading guilty to allowing Centaur Gaming to file false tax returns due to payments made by the company to a political consultant. Keeler was also given a year of supervised release after his sentence and was ordered to pay a fine of $55,000 by US District Chief Judge, James R. Sweeney II.

Authorities say that Keeler, who served as a vice president and general counsel for Spectacle Entertainment and Centaur Gaming, gave $41,000 to Kelley Rogers. Rogers was a political consultant who worked on former Indiana state representative Brent Waltz’s 2016 congressional campaign.

Centaur’s founder and CEO, Rod Ratcliff, and Keeler devised a plan with Rogers to funnel the company’s funds into Waltz’s campaign. Keeler authorized Rogers to bill Centaur for fake research projects and approved payment for these fake projects. Rogers then used the money to pay back straw donors who gave money to Waltz.

Just before his trial began earlier this year, Keeler entered his plea deal. Before deciding to change their strategy, Keeler’s attorneys had provided images of Ratcliff attending the inauguration of President Trump in 2017. These photos were to be used as evidence during the trial. The move was objected to by prosecutors, who argued it was an attempt to sway jurors.

Zachary A. Myers, US Attorney for the Southern District of Indiana, mentioned in a statement that “illegal and concealed corporate contributions destroy public trust in our elections”. She further said, “Secretly funneling money from illegal casinos to political campaigns is a big crime, and those who do so will face the consequences.”

The Impact of the Investigation on Indiana Gaming

The company, Centaur Gaming, used to own the Hoosier Park and Indiana Grand racinos. The properties were sold by Centaur to Caesars Entertainment in 2018. After the sale, Ratcliff left for Spectacle Entertainment, and Keeler followed. Spectacle was later announced as being under investigation for a federal case involving Kelley. The announcement was made by the Indiana Gaming Commission (IGC).

The investigation ultimately caused the opening of Hard Rock Northern Indiana to be delayed. Ratcliff and Keeler were also removed from Spectacle. Spectacle was also restructured, and it is now a minority partner without any control over the Gary casino that Hard Rock is now running.

The IGC’s investigation also caused a delay in Greg Gibson, Spectacle co-owner, being granted a casino license in Terre Haute. He eventually got the license but lost it a year ago due to his lack of significant progress on the project.

Waltz Receives a 10-Months Prison Term

Last month, Waltz was given a sentence of 10 months in prison. He was also given two years of supervised release. Additionally, Sweeney issued him a $45,000 fine.

Justin Campell, Special Agent in Charge at IRS – Criminal Investigation, said, “these individuals getting sentenced is proof that there are consequences for misusing positions of trust within both public and private sector.”

He further said that the IRS Criminal Investigation is fully committed to ensuring that the integrity of its taxation system is protected. He said they will continue to investigate anyone who breaks its tax laws.

Author: Dale Alvarez